Posts Tagged ‘potential’

Our Future Dinner Table

What you see here is the beginnings of what will hopefully be our table’s bounty come summer. I’ve spent the last few days measuring out our future four-square garden plots along with walkways to make everything easily accessible. As you can see, I’ve staked and roped everything off, and even this small act makes it feel like it’s really going to happen. We’re starting the process of living off the land.

The black tarps are there because we’re hoping to kill the sod underneath. I already worked a lot of the sod out yesterday with a tiller and a rake, but there was plenty that remained, and since we’ll want to use that nutritious soil for our semi-raised beds, we have to make sure there are no grass seeds hiding in there. Thus, the black tarps.

So here’s our plan: we’re going to let the sod die, then dig up the top layer and throw it onto the compost. Then we’ll dig about 12″ -18″ deep and lay down some hardware cloth (I’ve read that this is more effective and longer lasting than chicken wire for keeping out gophers). We’ll line the entire bed with the hardware cloth. Next we’ll put in our boxes–we’ll see if they actually end up very “raised” after all of this is said and done. They might just be in-ground boxes, which wouldn’t be bad, but I’d prefer a little raised to make it harder for slugs and other critters to get to the yumminess. After that we’ll fill the boxes with the same soil that used to be there.

Around the boxes, we’ll lay down some mulch or something similar. And then around the entire thing, we have two plans: first, we’ll put a fence in to keep out the deer. Then, we’ll dig a little trench around the fence (or perhaps slightly inside, I haven’t decided) to lay in some more gopher-type wire (not sure if that one will be hardware cloth as well or chicken wire, which tends to rust quickly after a few years). We’ll fill in the trench after laying in that barrier, so it essentially will just be an underground fence. Finally, we’ll line the outside of the fence with flowers like marigolds, daisies, and lavender. I realize the only repellent flower there is actually the marigolds, but I love daisies and I want our bees to be lured into our garden by the tempting lavender.

 A lot of work, but also a lot of hope. It feels so good to be outside in the fresh air, feeling the warm sun on my face as I work the land. I can almost taste the carrot soup, the roasted garlic, the mashed potatoes straight from our land. Most of all, I think, I taste the potential of it all. First ordering bees, now the beginnings of our garden. It makes me feel like I am truly doing what I was made to do.


Quick Check-In

Just a quick check-in from the winter wonderland of New Jersey. We’re out here on our annual holiday vacation visiting Rob’s side of the family, and having a great time. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are anticipating the new year with joy and hope.

Rob and I are preparing for a talk we’re doing on Sacred Simplicity on January 9th. I think I’m going to go back and check out some of my own meditations on the topic from 2008 (“The Complexity of Simplicity” Parts One, Two, Three, and Four)…regardless, we’re excited to be speaking together again. The last time we did a talk together was for an LMU retreat. We spoke to about 60 college students about Sacred Sexuality. I love speaking with Rob, and I think we make a great team. Now it’s just a matter of getting our thoughts organized on paper!

Finally, we’ve also been spending some of these last days of 2009 considering our blessings from this year and our hopes for the next. We’re excitedly thinking about our future garden, about ordering bees, about expanding our family (both animal and human). 2009 was quite an adventure, and now with our new homestead, I am certain that 2010 holds many memories yet to be made.

I love this time of year because of all the potential it holds. So many things held in the tension of hope and wondering.  So many opportunities yet unknown. Fears will be conquered, barriers will be crossed, all while we continue the journey of expanding ever-outward. So, as we journey together into 2010, I pray that we each have the courage to go willingly where God takes us. Sometimes that’s scary, sometimes exciting, but always blessed.

Things to Come

IMG_6028 - Compress

Sorry that the posts have been a little thin lately. There’s so much to do in preparation for the move, I’m struggling to fit everything into the few hours each day allows. Yet it’s all done joyfully, and so far I have not felt the debilitating stress that so many have warned come with a big move. I try to remain centered in prayer, focused in my intent, hopeful in the displacement that approaches.

I love two things about this future home of ours: its present state and its future potential. The photo above is of the chicken coop on the property–a coop probably not used in about 20 years. We may not be able to have chickens for at least a year–there are other things that need to take priority–but its very presence promises something to come. I like that. I like that the house is ready to move into, beautiful in its present state, and yet ripe with many possibilities.  The potential of the home dances in shadows across the walls, and I am both grateful for what is and excited for what is to come.

The boxes continue to mount against the living room wall. Our cats have decided that this is a wonderful new playground:


The pictures are coming off of the walls, the books are leaving their shelves. Like us, each thing in our house is leaving the home that it has known for the last three years. And as each piece of furniture moves, as each box stacks up against the wall, it seems less and less like our home. It’s becoming an unfamiliar space again. This is bittersweet–we don’t want to stay here, but we also are deeply grateful for this, our first home together. It is the slow process of saying good-bye. The former things are passing away.

Packing Up


Our current apartment is slowly morphing into stacks of boxes against the living room wall. I’ve been going through the closets, cleaning out old boxes, packing away elements of our lives for the transfer into the next chapter. A few boxes actually hadn’t been opened since our last move, so I’m determined not to have “open much later” boxes this time around.

It’s interesting going through all of our things. In many ways we have already done a pretty good job of simplifying and taking stock. But looking through old letters and memory boxes, or seeing things that were really important to me three years ago that seem so much less important now–it’s a thought-provoking process. In some ways it’s like a longer version of an examination of conscience. Where have I been? What has mattered most to me? Who am I becoming in the wake of these experiences?

I think about where I’ve been and the contrast of dreams to come. I think about the long road Robert and I have walked to get to this point, and the work that lies ahead of us. I thank God for the trials and the blessings, those in the past and those that are inevitably waiting. This process is blessed, even if it is, at times, a painful or scary one.

Feeling anxiety about the unknown is also inevitable, I think. No matter how wonderful a future seems, leaving the warm comfort of one’s known world requires no small amount of courage. As I pack up each box, I think about all the things that will be different when it is opened again. It thrills me and makes me nervous all at once. The passage of time is stronger than the movement of glaciers across our lives. Each second gone, one second closer. I embrace the coming of this dream.

Three weeks to go, and it’s all I can do to keep my mind on school. I’m already planting gardens, hammering fence posts, sewing clothes. I’m checking the temperature in the greenhouse. I’m taking our dog on a walk. I’m watching our family grow older and bigger in this new home. I need to remind myself that the present is sacred, too.

And I cherish it. I cherish the “lasts” of living in the city. The last few times a Barnes and Noble is right down the street.  The last time visiting our beloved vet. The last time driving to my parents is an easy 40 minute car ride. Last, last, last. I cherish the lasts, as I anticipate the firsts. But I feel the tension of being caught in the middle.

Yes, I embrace the dream to come. But I also embrace the one that is here.

Getting Closer

house_pano_compressWe took my parents up to the house on Sunday and gave them the grand tour. We also got a closer look at the details of the place–we went inside the root cellar, took a peak inside the jacuzzi, gave a the chicken coop a once-over. The grape vines might be able to be salvaged, but they haven’t been watered in a very long time. There’s also an unused foundation that may someday turn into the goat barn–who knows! Some fruit trees are already planted, but I think we are going to expand the orchard. The chicken coop will need some protective wiring around the area. I can’t wait to watch the sun rise out of that kitchen window.

The potential just seems to ooze out of every element of this place. I can see all the different possibilities of what we can do, and I am still in disbelief that this is actually my life.

The best possible scenario is that we move in over Thanksgiving weekend. And we will be giving thanks indeed! For now, a slow and steady pace of work will be necessary for the short run. Juggling seminary and packing will not be easy. But, in a strange way, I’ve always enjoyed packing. The potential and hope of the new place always keeps me going.

At this time of year, it gets around freezing at night in Tehachapi. I’m going to have to find a good winter coat. This isn’t the Southern California beach weather anymore, Dorothy!

Each day gets us one step closer.

A Cautious Hope


It makes me nervous to actually write the words…dare I say it? We’re in escrow! This is the northward view from our new house(!), which we’ll hopefully be able to truly call our own  in a little over a month. The air vent you see in the bottom right is on the roof of the root cellar on the property.

It’s a dream.  A dream I’m afraid can be snatched away at any moment…but, as I said before, there is value in any dream. So we wait and hope and prepare. It’s possible that just after thanksgiving we may be in a home with a greenhouse, a root cellar, and a chicken coop. Everything we’ve been working toward. Everything we’ve hoped for.

It takes a willingness to change–change jobs, change level of convenience, change the entire pace of life. But we’re ready. More than ready…we’re excited for it.

We’ll be moving two hours away from where we are now, away from the smog and traffic and LED billboards. We’ll be actual country folks, with an acre and a half to call our own. We can have chickens and goats and bees, and we’ll can and pickle and freeze our summer harvest so we can taste a little of July’s blessings in January. We’ve already decided what to call our little homestead: abbondanza. Abundance.

And if this dream is fulfilled, if we actually get to live here, then we will always do our best to share in the abundance. For it isn’t really ours in the first place…our breaths are on borrowed time, so how could we even think that we could actually own a piece of earth that has seen tens of thousands of millenia? But for this time on earth, let us be able to share the blessings. May it be a place of safety, of welcoming, and of community.

We wait and we hope.

These many beautiful days


These many beautiful days cannot be lived again. But they are compounded in my own flesh and spirit, and I take them in full measure toward whatever lives ahead.

-Daniel Berrigan, SJ